Tara Lynn Johnson

Writer ~ Photographer ~ World Changer

Category: Commentary (Page 1 of 2)

One Side

Not wanting to write about what’s going on in the world, I wait each week for something to come to me. The world overwhelms, though, and blocks my view of the ordinary, which I like to focus on and celebrate.

I limit news intake; it gets through anyway. When something awful happens (which is apparently the theme of 2017), it gets through even louder.

I won’t write about it, I tell myself. I won’t discuss thoughts.

I’ll take a drive instead.

Even when I’m not looking. Even when I’m purposefully ignoring. Like Oedipus, I can’t escape.

Sunday night, behind the wheel of my car, headed to the river, to enjoy the calm serenity of the water. The sun slowly sets to my left. I let my mind wander until I no longer hear powerfully stupid words repeated and see Tiki torches in my head. Eventually, I think only of the sights out the front windshield — corn fields and puffy clouds, red lights and yellow lines.

I reach the road’s end, where I must turn right or left to move forward. A large American flag flutters in the wind near medallions on a small stone wall honoring local men and women and the wars in which they fought (against fascism, for one).

There, a man sits in a blue folding camping chair. His black lab sits at his feet. Staked into the ground on his left, a handmade poster. Around the photo of a pretty brunette whose face I unfortunately now know, his writing (I assume): HEATHER HEYER.

As I come to a stop, we lock eyes. I pause longer than needed, stunned that he’s here, where I wasn’t expecting this to be.

I nod. He nods.

I, too, know her name. I, too, am sickened by what’s going on around me. I, too, understand that the (again) increased visibility of those once forced to remain on the fringe and in the shadows, is not correlated to but caused, and in fact emboldened, by the person currently occupying the White House (and his minions) (which even fellow Republicans said to renounce by calling them by their despicable names*).

I tried to take a day off, to escape what I know.

The universe won’t allow it.

One man demands people look at her, insists we examine what was on display at that rally. One man placed himself so he can’t easily be ignored, at a crossroads (like America?).

At the same time, one man can’t seem to stop himself from always being right, from widening the chasm between people instead of bringing them together, from not being what he should be from the powerful perch upon which he sits.

And one woman — me — can’t escape her fate. I look. I see. I know. And that means I have to do something about it, too.

There are many ones “on both sides.” I’ll do everything within my power to ensure the ones on the side of love will win.


*Finally doing the right thing and reading the correctly worded statement off a TelePrompTer on Monday, on your third try, after finally listening to the adults around you for half a second, doesn’t count, especially when on Tuesday you double-down on the moronic things you said the first time you commented.

Facebook-Free

The whole world is not on Facebook, though it may feel that way. I know. I used to. But that was before I deactivated my account, for good.

It was easier to quit than I thought. Why did I think it would be difficult?

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A Pressing Issue

Something in the news lately, tied to politics, is bugging me: the way some people are talking about and acting towards the media and journalists.

Journalists do an important job — questioning authority, looking for things in the dark that should be brought into the light. But even if the job wasn’t important, they deserve, like everybody else, to go to work feeling safe. In these times, though, being a journalist is a becoming a dangerous job in America. Threatening language or actions of some, which might inspire others bent on doing harm, is beyond thoughtless and inappropriate.

Of course, it’s one thing just to use words. However, it seems that those words are becoming actions (something I hope doesn’t continue and become a trend).

Consider the thug in Montana who body-slammed a reporter, for instance. Note to Mr. Politician: it’s the job of the press, especially when it comes to politicians (who aren’t exactly at the top of the list of The Most Honest People), to be tenacious stopping just at the outer edge of obnoxious. If a politician can’t handle that, then maybe he (or she) should consider a different career. Being obnoxious trying to get an answer from a public servant isn’t illegal (yet), but assault is — the politician in this case was arrested, as he should have been. (Aside: he’s embarrassingly a hometown boy, born in California, but raised in a Philadelphia suburb).

Then there’s the Governor of Texas, who said he’d carry a target sheet around after shooting practice “in case I see any reporters.” Because joking about shooting people is hilarious?

Then, there’s the person or persons who thought it was a good idea to shoot out the window of a Kentucky newspaper with a gun (small caliber? B.B.? Does that matter?). Thankfully, the Republican governor of Kentucky denounced the behavior.

I wish others with more prominent positions would do so. But he won’t… Of course I blame the guy at the top, who sets a poor example, big league. If he thinks the press is wrong or smearing him or just making him looking bad (though he doesn’t need help in that area), he should rise above and let them be shown as fools, if that’s the case. He’s the President of the United States, the most public and prominent of politicians, and he should act like it. The very least he could do is watch his words and realize the weight they carry.

Journalism being a risky job isn’t new, but it is somewhat new to America. Journalists around the world have been killed or imprisoned just for doing their jobs — obviously war reporters take a known risk, but those covering politics also risk their lives sometimes (read more at the Committee to Protect Journalists).

But that hasn’t been the case in the U.S.A., and our free press is admired around the world. Because not everyone has that. Knowledge is a powerful thing and those who seek to control know that. Cutting off knowledge at its source, especially a source they can’t control, is imperative to their dominance.

But that’s not America.

Denigrating the media, calling them the enemy of the people, threatening them, putting hands on them — that’s not America either.

It hasn’t been anyway.

I’ll do everything in my power to keep what’s been happening from becoming the norm. And I’m not alone (thank goodness).

Literal Bully Pulpit

Though I wasn’t surprised by the outcome of the presidential election, I never thought I’d see the day when the presidency would be an actual bully’s pulpit. Forgetting everything else we know (and, all things holy help us, what we don’t yet), the president-elect will be the first Bully in Chief. I’m still shaking my head.

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